Starbucks Culture Shock

red starbucks

{via flickr}

The red cups are out, which according to my American friends, means it’s officially Christmas time. After being back for two years, I’m still not entirely familiar with Starbucks. A few days ago, I went there with my dad and mistakenly ordered a “small Chai Tea Latte” instead of a “tall Chai Tea Latte” (why is it tall anyways? It’s not tall. It’s small. I’ll never be able to speak Starbucks.).

My ordering mistake reminded me of my first encounter at a Starbucks several years ago. I was on my way home from a missions trip in Ethiopia and my group had a layover in Istanbul. The group I was with lived in Hungary and often got Starbucks on their frequent visits to neighboring Vienna. Thus, when we spotted the coffee shop in the airport, everyone was super excited. Except me.

I looked at the three huge menu boards, crammed with various drink options, and felt completely overwhelmed. People around me were ordering all kinds of crazy things with this, without that, and with a dash of something-rather. I wanted to cry. I was starving, exhausted, and the last thing I wanted to do was get in that line. It reminded me of the first day I walked into my Italian public school…well, that might be a tad of an exaggeration. But it did feel like listening to a foreign language.

Screen shot 2012-12-09 at 2.53.22 PM

{I actually found a picture commemorating this event on Facebook. I look so happy, but behind that sleep-deprived smile was confusion and fear}

Out of hunger, I finally left everyone to find my own safe, easy breakfast and eventually found croissants. And all I had to say was, “One croissant please.”

After such a *ahem* traumatizing experience, I knew I had to learn to order from Starbucks before we moved back to the States. So when I visited my friend in Germany, I told her Starbucks must be on our to-do list. I think I actually ended up forcing her to order for me, allowing flashbacks from the Istanbul airport to make me back away from the line. She chose a chai tea latte for me and I’ve never gotten anything else. Simple and sweet.

Who would’ve thought a coffee shop would’ve been my worst culture shock after returning from Italy?

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One thought on “Starbucks Culture Shock

  1. I can understand the culture shock of stepping back into Starbucks. It truly is it’s own country with it’s own language. If you are still overwhelmed by it, don’t think about ordering something off of their secret menu!

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